Travel to U.S.: East: Long Island's North Fork
What does Long Island look like, once you escape New York City? That was the question, and here's part of the answer, based on a quick traverse starting at Orient Point, at the eastern end of the island's north fork.
Ready for a methodological excursus? They're such fun! Anyway, somewhere there's somebody or two or six who really knows this part of the world, but geography is a hopelessly neglected discipline these days, and until those people step forward and post a deeply informed narrative (ouch!), these first-glance photos will have to do.
Orient Point, the northern counterpart of the South Fork's Montauk Point. Plum Island is in the distance; since 1954 it's housed the U.S.D.A.'s Plum Island Animal Disease Center, with strains of foot-and-mouth disease frozen in high-security freezers. Long Island Sound on the left; Gardiner's Bay on the right. Manhattan is about 120 miles behind the camera.
The same Orient Point, seen now from the waters of Plum Gut, the passage between Long Island and Plum Island. The light is the same as the one shown in the previous picture. The scattering of houses is mildly ominous, if you're expecting countryside.
The ferry from New London, Connecticut, docks just a few hundred yards beyond Orient Point, on the south (Gardiner's Bay) side.
The ferry terminal.
Highway 25, which traverses Long Island, ends abruptly at the ferry or, from another perspective, starts there.
Orient Point is a county park, but none too welcoming even here, at the remotest tip of Long Island.
Private landowners are no more hospitable.
Fronting the park, one of those big new houses seen from the ferry.
Plenty of older houses survive, mostly along the roadside and well set back.
Older still? Hard to tell, but the shape and color seem almost autochthonous.
The Town of Orient, fairly intact.
The church behind the sign.
About as upright as a house can be.
A less constricting form.
A few miles west: Greenport. We're still way out on the island and less than ten miles from Orient Point, but the commerical development and traffic hint at what lies farther west.
Looking the other way: things do thin out fast.
Cutchogue High School, midway out the North Fork.
Potatoes are pretty well gone from Long Island, but some do survive. A lot of the kids who went to that high school years ago helped pick these fields.
The old fields are put to many uses.
One option is turf.
Another is vineyards.
A fruit farm in East Cutchogue: atavistic, but hanging on.
Primeval road on the fruit farm.
Nearby, pioneer buildings preserved as a museum.
Conversion--in this case from a church to a public library.
McDonald's on its best behavior. The landscape architect, however, was having a bad day.
The Peconic River flows eastward through Long Island into Great Peconic Bay, which separates the island's forks. The town at the split is Riverhead, which is the seat of Suffolk County. Hence the name of this Art Deco theater.
Where the river flows into the bay.
Upstream a bit.
Still farther west, a surviving potato house: loaded from the top, emptied from the bottom.
Irrigated field, not far from Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant.
Just in case you're wondering whether you're now firmly within civilization's force field: Starbucks with a drive-thru. This is Coram, about halfway across the island. From here on west, you don't want to know.
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